Go Away, F12! (or how to disable F12 at bootime to boot into WinPE)

Go Away, F12! (or how to disable F12 at bootime to boot into WinPE)

While looking for a way to fully automate the installation of wim image file to a server, we immediately stumbled upon a small problem.   When doing a PXE boot, the boot rom imaged asked for the F12 key to be pressed.  If the key was not pressed, the machine booted normally into Windows.

I then found a link that explains the following from a RIS installation:

“…To enable a fully automated RIS-based installation, it is necessary to substitute the Startrom.n12 boot file for the default Startrom.com boot file…”

Further reading revealed this vital piece of information:

To configure all clients serviced by a RIS server with an automated installation, rename the startup boot files as follows:

  • Change Startrom.com to Startrom.bak
  • Change Startrom.n12 to Startrom.com

These files are located in the following directory location on your RIS server:


There are certain differences between the RIS and WDS installations, but nothing big.   First off, the location of the files for boot time (given that it is a 32-bit box is the following):


There you will not find Startom.com and Startrom.n12, but rather pxeboot.com and pxeboot.n12.

If you rename pxeboot.n12 to pxeboot.com, your machine will PXE boot and will NOT ask for F12 key press.

2 responses to “Go Away, F12! (or how to disable F12 at bootime to boot into WinPE)”

  1. Chuck Nailen says:

    That does work great, but the only problem is the next time the client reboots, you go right back to the PXE boot. How do you avoid this endless looping of the PXE boot?

  2. csaborio says:

    Yet another way to do this is to use wdsutil from WAIK. By using WAIK, you can specify the boot program. You could carry change the boot program to pxeboot.n12, wait a predetermined amount of time, and then change it to abortpxe.com to abort the loop.

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